The world sees a baby bump or a newborn and assumes the parents must be full of joy. However, it's normal to experience lots of emotions! Happiness, fear, fatigue, excitement, ambivalence. Feelings will ebb and flow- but specific approaches can help you frame your experience with understanding, compassion, and humor! Taking control of your thoughts will shape and shift your emotions and your experiences. One in seven women will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Even if you are among the six of seven who do not, you still are likely to be confronted with worries, shifts in mood, and challenges to your mental health. Exploring these issues and addressing them purposefully can lead to some of the most amazing growth of the adulthood years. Parenthood: possibly the hardest job you’ll ever have (with the least training!) Babies don't come with instructions. They can't tell you when to take a break, schedule a date night, or ask for help. Just because you LOVE your baby doesn't mean parenthood is easy (even if everyone else’s pictures on facebook makes you think so!). Caring for a child includes self-care and receiving support. Supporting your marriage through parenthood Parenting requires a lot of time and energy, much of which is often diverted from the marriage. You are likely to experience highs and lows- emotionally, relationally, sexually, financially, and the list goes on. Are you sharing your experience together as a team? Or are you isolating your feelings and keeping your needs to yourself? There are tools and resources available to help you and your partner navigate this journey...through the valleys and the peaks. Your relationship can thrive through this season if you work hard to maintain connection.
Parenting, together Parenting is a series of infinite decisions. Some seem ordinary, some feel overwhelming; many bring differences of opinions between parents. While you and your partner may share the same goals for your family, your ideas and fears aren't always the same. Parents often have the same destination in mind (happy, healthy children) but with different or undeveloped road maps as to how you are going to get there. Maternal identity The birth of a baby can trigger many new thoughts and emotions for moms. Frequently, there is a concern as to how previous roles (as a professional, a wife, a friend, a daughter, sister, or other…) will still have room in this new role as a mom. While this may bring stress, finding the integration of all of these identities and activities can create some of the most valuable growth and energy to bring to motherhood. Body image As complex as the changes a woman’s body experiences in pregnancy and motherhood, so are the feelings attached to these changes. If these changes are causing you distress, learning how to cope, confront, and carry these changes with you will make a profound difference in your journey. Prenatal and baby bonding Not feeling as connected to your baby as you’d like? Media images we see lead us to think the parent-child bond is always automatic and strong. When it isn’t, there is much that can be done to promote this bond and attachment. Post-partum support for dads One in ten dads will experience post-partum depression. In families where the mom has post-partum depression, 50% of the dads will, too. Depression generally looks different in men: anger and withdrawal being common. While any big life change can trigger depression or anxiety, fatherhood is one that our world doesn’t prepare men for emotionally or mentally. Parenthood takes time, effort, energy and vulnerability. It reveals all your strengths and all of your weaknesses. Clarifying your role and goal as a parent, what being a “good” mom or dad means to you, and examining your hopes and fears will reap tremendous benefit as you embark on parenting. Having the dedicated time, space and support of counseling in a non-judgmental relationship with a trained professional can help you do this.
Parenthood comes with a lot of pressure and new expectations you never even knew you held for yourself. Need help sorting through those feelings? Not sure how to communicate with your partner about this transition? Reach out! There's no time like the present to make a difference in the future. While all of these challenges are common in parenthood, they need not be overwhelming or prolonged. The counseling relationship gives you a supportive space to provide you new approaches to new problems.